In my shoes

April 11, 2022 | Author: Jim Stallard

I visited a church one day and I was greeted by a gentleman who pointed to the corner of the church at the rear and said, “Come over here. This is where wheelchairs go.” And I said, “Oh?” and he said, “Yep. You’ve gotta come here. This is where we gotta put you – out of the way. We can’t go moving pews to make room for wheelchairs. You’ve got to sit back here.”

So I was ushered to the rear corner of the church, right next to the Kids’ Corner and I wondered why they couldn’t move any of the pews because most of them were empty. But that’s where wheelchairs went. Not me. Wheelchairs. And we couldn’t go moving the pews to make room for you. And that’s where I sat. For the whole service. At the back. At the rear. In the corner. Totally distant from the rest of the congregation. Totally separate from the whole worship service.

On the other hand, I visited another church where we were actually going to a wedding. My wife and I went in. We noticed how accessible the parking was. We noticed the easy ramp to get inside and then we noticed that the church was on three levels and we thought, “Oh, this is going to be problematic.” But as we looked around, we noticed there were ramps everywhere. We were greeted by someone at the door who just very, very quietly pointed out that there were ramps everywhere up to the mezzanine floor and up to the top floor and as I looked around, I noticed that there was quite a discreet ramp, even leading up to the platform of the church. There were ramps everywhere. The whole place was accessible.

About Jim Stallard

Jim Stallard commenced with CBM as South Australian Representative in the mid-1980s and served in a variety of roles. In 1998 an accident very nearly killed Jim and after a long period of convalescence Jim was left as a quadriplegic. Undeterred by his physical limitations, Jim became one of Australia’s best known public speakers, drawing on his own personal experience to highlight the plight of people with disabilities living in the developing world. 

Jim passed away in 2012. Jim’s life was filled with love and laughter. He was quick with a joke, and an inspiration to us and to all whom he shared his courageous story with around Australia. He tirelessly advocated for the inclusion of people with disabilities here and overseas, and left an inspiring legacy.

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